Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

And the rest of the title is, with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust.

They’re a happy accident that came to be after a recipe fail.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

I was goofing around with some crescent roll dough and I don’t know how anyone can mess up dough-in-a-tube, but I did. I over-stuffed it and it was 3am. I used to still be out drinking at 3am on Friday nights, now I’m baking. Life sure changes.

I usually bake in the wee hours so that when daylight breaks, my goodies are cooled and camera-ready. Normally I have a bucket list a mile long of things I want to make, but with moving last weekend, my daughter starting her first week back at school this week, I was drawing a blank.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

I saw a container of light cream cheese from a recent Trader Joe’s trip and bam, cheesecake bars, with pumpkin came to me.

And a half-used jar of  Salted Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe’s caught my eye for swirls. Perfect.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

The bars are modeled after the Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust

I added pumpkin and plenty of pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese, so they have a nice pop of comforting pumpkin flavor.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

Normally I pick around crust and am not into crust, but this crust recipe is my new go-to for graham cracker-based crusts. The brown sugar and butter caramelize, and add so much more flavor than typical graham cracker crusts.

I add a tablespoon of cornstarch to prevent the crust from getting overly brittle. It’s definitely got some snap, but it’s not so rigid it cracks or crumbles.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

The tanginess from the cream cheese, coupled with the pumpkin and spices, balance some of the sweetness from the crust and caramel sauce.

About the only thing that could top peanut butter swirls are swirls of gooey, creamy, rich caramel. The caramel sauce really brings out the caramel tones that develop in the crust while it bakes.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

The slight saltiness from the caramel mitigates some sweetness, and adds a bit of the salty-and-sweet element that people seem to love.

Don’t use ice cream sundae sauce that’s runny, thin, and the first ingredient is corn syrup. It will get lost in the bars. Make sure the brand you use is nice and thick.

Use this salted caramel recipe if you want to make your own. It’s easy, but I had a half used jar and enjoy pantry cleanout recipes.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

The bars are rich, satisfying, and there’s so many layers of flavor, from cream cheese, pumpkin and spices, to brown sugar and caramel.

And they’re also a texture lover’s  dream. A crisp crust, with a soft yet dense and firm middle, coupled with rivers of caramel flowing over the surface.

The best part is that they’re fast and easy to make, and way less intense than trying to make a whole cheesecake. Plus, I don’t want or need a whole cheesecake. This little 8×8-inch pan was plenty.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

Every now and then I don’t mind a recipe fail because what’s created instead trumps the original plan.

The bars turned out infinitely better than anything with dough-in-a-tube could have.

Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with a Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

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Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust

These bars are a texture lover's dream with a crisp brown sugar-graham cracker crust, a soft yet dense pumpkin cheesecake layer, and gooey soft salted caramel swirls the run like a river over the surface. They're tangy and the pumpkin is pleasantly spiced with a nice pop of fall flavor. The buttery, brown sugar-graham crust caramelizes while baking, and complements the caramel sauce that's swirled in. The bars are impressive enough to serve at holiday parties, but are so much faster and easier to make than traditional cheesecake - and I prefer them.

Yield: one 8x8 pan, 9 to 12 squares

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt, optional and to taste

Filling
1 large egg
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature and very soft (light is okay, micro for 10-15 seconds if you forgot to set it out to soften)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
heaping 1/3 cup pumpin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (if you don't have it, add pinches of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg and cloves)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
heaping 1/3 cup salted caramel sauce (don't ise ice cream sauce that's made with corn syrup as the first ingredient because it's too thin; thicker is better or make homemade salted caramel

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For the Crust - In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Add all remaining crust ingredients and mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Turn loose crumbs out into prepared pan and using a spatula, pack mixture firmly into pan in an even, smooth, flat layer; set pan aside.
  5. For the Filling - In the same mixing bowl (no need to wash it), combine egg, cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and whisk until smooth and combined, or beat with an electric mixer. The softer the cream cheese is, the easier the mixture comes together.
  6. Add the flour and mix to just incorporate; don't overmix.
  7. Pour filling over crust.
  8. Drizzle salted caramel sauce over batter to create swirls. To create the marbled pattern shown, drizzle caramel over batter in 5 wide, evenly spaced, parallel lines, each spanning the length of the pan. Like 5 rows of long train tracks. Rotate pan 90-degrees. With a toothpick, starting at the top of the pan, "draw" 5 evenly spaced lines through the caramel. You're dragging the toothpick perpendicularly through the first set of lines to create the marbling.
  9. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set with very little jiggle; some looseness and a very slight jiggle is okay, but there should not be sloshing in the center. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for about 1 hour before lifting out with foil overhang and slicing. I prefer to serve these bars chilled. Cover the pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, or until chilled before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Related Recipes

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust

Peanut Butter-Swirled Cheesecake Bars with Brown Sugar-Graham Cracker Crust - Easy, One-Bowl, No-Mixer Recipe at averiecooks.com

White and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake Bars

White and Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake Bars

Coconut Spice Cake Cheesecake Bars

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Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies

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No-Ice-Cream-Maker Salted Caramel, Bourbon, Nutter Butter and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce  - Easy recipe for salted caramel sauce

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce - Recipe at averiecooks.com

Dark Rum Caramel Sauce (gluten-free) – The caramel sauce can be made with or without rum, although I recommend it. A step-by-step guide for easy at-home caramel sauce to be used on everything from ice cream to apples

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars (Vegan, GF)

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Marshmallow Caramel Oreo Cookie S’Mores Bars – An Oreo cookie-crumb and buttery crust is topped with marshmallows, caramels, and chocolate chips for an easy and fast dessert reminiscent of s’mores

Caramel and Chocolate Gooey Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation) – Caramels, more caramels, and plenty of chocolate and oats are combined in these gooey, sticky, sweet, and texture-rich bars

Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels – Too good to be true. The recipe really works and they’re the best caramels I’ve ever had

Chocolate-Covered 7-Minute Microwave Caramels averiecooks.com

 Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins - They sure don’t taste healthy or vegan. Rich, moist, and satisfying

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins - Easy Recipe at averiecooks.com

Thanks for the entries in the Deluxe GIR Kitchen Spatulas Giveaway

What’s your favorite type of cheesecake? Or recipe using pumpkin or caramel?

 

   

101 Responses to “Salted Caramel Swirled-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars”

  1. #
    51
    vanillasugarblog — September 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Some of my best creations come from happy accidents and loss of ingredient/swap out.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of caramel with the pumpkin.
    Great job Av!

    Reply

  2. #
    52
    Nami | Just One Cookbook — September 16, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    I’m finally ready for everything fall (I think I resisted for a while). Gotta get pumpkin spiced latte and have these bars. They look so good! I love salted caramel – how wonderful you added it. :)

    Reply

  3. #
    53
    madscar — September 17, 2013 at 1:31 am

    Uaaau this is amazing:) Love it!

    Reply

  4. #
    54
    Tahnycooks — September 17, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I wish I had a couple of these in front of my face right now! They look so good!

    Reply

  5. #
    55
    sippitysup — September 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Ok. Obviously delicious. But particularly beautiful too. Maybe you’ve revealed the secret to what’s lacking in my baking routine… getting up at 3am! GREG

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 17th, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Thanks, Greg :) Getting up at 3am? Actually just still up. What can I say, total night owl here!

      Reply

  6. #
    56
    Nancy @ gottagetbaked — September 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    I’d take this over dough in a tube any day! I love when a fail leads you to an epic win like this. That looks like autumn in a pan, Averie. That gorgeous orange from the pumpkin with those perfect dark swirls of caramel is mesmerizing.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 18th, 2013 at 5:30 pm

      Gotta think on my feet and when one thing fails, gotta make something else. And yes, TOTALLY trumped dough in a tube :)

      Reply

  7. #
    57
    Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence — September 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    What a beautiful design on top!! And the combination of pumpkin and salted caramel sounds divine :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 20th, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you Brandon! I had fun with the design :)

      Reply

  8. #
    58
    Jocelyn — September 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Delicious AND gorgeous!!! What more could you ask for in a dessert?? You are a baking queen Miss Averie!! ;)

    Reply

  9. #
    59
    Maria — September 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    Ohhh these bars look so good! I love the swirls on top!!!

    Reply

  10. #
    60
    Samantha @ Five Heart Home — September 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Um, this is the best kind of recipe fail. Those look amazing…so very pretty and rustic, and perfect for fall! Thanks for sharing your brilliance with the rest of us… :)

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — September 23rd, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      you’re so sweet – glad you like them! :)

      Reply

  11. #
    61
    Parrish (Life With The Crust Cut Off) — September 25, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    This looks amazing!! I love it!!
    I would love to invite you to link it up at our new party Lovely Ladies Linky where you link up once and get seen on 6 blogs!!
    Link up starts Wednesdays!

    Hope to see you there :)
    Parrish @ Life With The Crust Cut Off

    Reply

  12. #
    62
    Nicole Stennett — October 3, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Averie –

    I’m going to make these for a girl’s weekend in the mountains. I’ve made a few of the other bar recipes, but they’re usually too gooey/runny in the middle and never seem to set right. Any tips or thoughts? Everything still tastes FABULOUS, so no regrets on my part.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — October 3rd, 2013 at 9:45 am

      If things aren’t quite set, just bake them for a few extra minutes til they are. Ovens, climates, ingredients, etc. all vary – your oven may just be running a little cool or whatever it is, you need a few extra mins. Not a biggie. Just bake a bit longer. Enjoy!

      Reply

  13. #
    63
    Tamara — December 10, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I think I will try making these gluten-free, should be an easy enough switch since it’s only 2 tbsp flour in there, so I’ll substitute with GF flour, and then I’ll just use GF graham crumbs. It’ll be a good thing for my mom who can’t have wheat.

    Reply

  14. #
    64
    Yosef - This American Bite — December 23, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Congrats! This recipe has been nominated to win my Inspired Recipe of the Year Award. The shortlist will be announced on 12/30/2013.

    Reply

  15. #
    65
    Becca — July 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    These turned out wonderful. I love your toothpick trick! They looked so professional! Next time I just need to cook my caramel sauce a bit longer, so that I get the fabulous golden brown colour that you have. Amazing recipe! Thank you!

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — July 24th, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks for trying them, glad you’re happy, and that you like the toothpick trick :)

      Reply

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